If you already know who you’re going to vote for, and you live in one of a select 32 states or the District of Columbia, there’s no need to wait until Election Day to vote. Early voting starts this week in North Carolina, and will gradually roll out to other states that allow it over the coming weeks.
Early voting was essential to Obama’s victory in 2008. In Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa, John McCain had more support from voters voting on election day. However, Obama won all of those states on the back of overwhelming early-voter support. It’s a formula the president is hoping to repeat in 2012.
It’s also a formula that Republicans, realizing that early voting generally favors Democrats, are trying to curtail. While Romney is working to better engage the early voter program in 2012 than McCain did, the Republicans have also been mounting challenges to early voter laws in Ohio and Florida.
In Ohio, Obama’s campaign sued the state for a law that eliminated early voting on the weekend and Monday before Election Day. A judge ruled in favor of restoring the days Friday, although Ohio’s attorney general plans to appeal. In Florida, a law was approved last year cutting the number of early voting days in the state from 14 to eight. The law is also currently being challenged.
Many crucial swing states have early voting, including the previously mentioned North Carolina. Swing states that also allow early voting include Indiana starting Sept. 17, Wisconsin on Sept. 20, and Michigan, New Hampshire, and Virginia on Sept. 22.
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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